Round 14 preview: Brisbane Roar vs. Wellington Phoenix.

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Happy New Year everyone, hopefully you all enjoyed the beginning of 2013 last night, but its game day and a vitally important one for Brisbane’s chances this season. They take on a Wellington side who’ve been inconsistent at best this season and have struggled to get points on the road.

Likely line-ups:
Brisbane:
Theo, Franjic, Donachie, Smith, Stefanutto, Paartalu, Nichols, Broich, Halloran, Berisha, Henrique.
Subs: Acton, Jurman, Murdocca, Fitzgerald.

 

Wellington: Paston, Bertos, Sigmund, Durante, Lochhead, Sanchez, Muscat, Lia, Fenton, Boyd, Brockie.
Subs:
McMaster, Smith, Totori, Huysegems.

While Boxing Day provided a much needed win, we shall find out tonight if it was the start of a 2nd half run, or just another false dawn. They did play well last week but there’s still some work to be done especially in the final third with movement off the ball. The build up through the lines however was pleasing and looked to be getting back to something similar to what worked so well in 2010/11 and 2011/12. Mulvey made a few interesting comments to the press yesterday about making some tweaks to the system. Hopefully those tweaks are more successful than those of his predecessor.

 

 

Mulvey also hinted at a firm line drawn in the sand regarding last seasons’ success and that being the past. He’s right, but it was interesting to hear him stress the point. In terms of the squad it’s the same XV who played against Adelaide who get the nod so that should provide some certainly. The only question is- will he make any switches to the starting line-up? My guess is no, however Halloran didn’t have his best game and he has started some sort of rotation policy amongst the midfielders.

Wellington for their part arrive in Brisbane on the back of a 3-2 win against an equally desperate Melbourne Heart side who for some reason decided to spend the entire 2nd half camped inside their own 18 yard box while leading 2-0. Their form in Australia has never been overly impressive but they’ve picked up just the two points on their travels this season to date. Their record in Brisbane isn’t a lot better with 6 defeats and two draws in 8 trips to Suncorp.

One of those draws however was last season in a game where they sat deep and hit on the counter to snatch a 1-1 draw at time when Brisbane seemed to be steamrolling the league. They do also have good recent history with Brisbane given they’ve lost just once in the last 4 meetings and scored plenty of goals in the process. The key to Wellington’s success against Brisbane is their ability to get the ball forward quickly exploiting the spaces left by Brisbane’s expansive attacking style.

 

 

They are however missing the pace upfront of Paul Ifill who’s been a key to their play against the Roar. Totori offers the same threat pace wise, but isn’t half the player Ifill is. In midfield they’re more industrial than mercurial and they tend to rely on the width of players like Brockie, Fenton and Bertos to provide the creativity for the strikers.

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Brisbane get the better of Adelaide in Boxing day battle

A-League Rd 13 - Adelaide v Brisbane

 

 

It wasn’t pretty, but a win is a win and that’s all that matters. Mitch Nichols incisive run and the finish from Henrique has lifted Brisbane to within touching distance of a finals spot after 1-0 win in Adelaide last night. Time will tell if it’s the result that turns the season around, but for now enjoy the 1st road win since the 2nd leg of the Major Semi last year.

 

There were some positive signs from Brisbane throughout the game aside from the result as well. They built up far more fluidly through the lines than in the past and cut the stupid ‘direct’ ball to Halloran which gave then more possession in the opposition area. They moved it a tad slow for my liking however as there were opportunities to play a pass further up the park, rather than the sideways/backwards option which resulted in Adelaide getting back and becoming compact.

 

 

The other thing that needs work is the play in the final third, it’s all a bit predictable and slow atm for mine. When we got the ball in and around the box yesterday they took too long to make a decision, and there were very few players in motion making a run off the ball to penetrate or create space. The other thing about the final third play is the lop-sidedness of it- I saw something on Twitter after the match about the % of play down each side and it was something like 75% of Brisbane’s passes came down the right side. Now there’s obvious reasons for that since the left sided midfielder plays narrow and cuts inside, while Franjic and Halloran team up in the wide right areas. Still, it’s predictable and reasonably easy to defend without players in motion. If I find it I’ll link it to the page because it was a good breakdown.

 

 

Player wise Nichols was the obvious standout yesterday and he went some way to silencing his critics, who say he’s lazy, doesn’t track back, ect. He –and Broich- worked back in defence or atleast attempted to which is a good sign. Speaking of Broich, Mulvey’s decision to bring him into the middle in place of Murdocca caused a few murmurings pre game, but it worked really well with the German having more space to operate in than he has had for most of the season. On the negative side, Halloran’s decision making wasn’t the best yesterday, he shot when he should have passed and vice versa.

I was a bit disappointed by Adelaide yesterday actually, I thought they were a bit negative in their mindset without the ball and tended to rely on the counter attack for a way through. Their midfield trio of Carrusca, Malik and Vidosic all struggled to get a toehold in the game which in tern kept the wide guys and Djite quiet. Brisbanes’ tactic of using Smith (usually) or Donachie to press high and cut the supply off worked well. Kosmina has a bit of work to do getting them back to where they were a few weeks ago, but then again so does Mulvey with a big home game on New Years Day against Wellington up next.

Statistics:
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Player ratings:
Brisbane:
Theo 7, Franjic 7, Donachie 7, Smith 7, Stefanutto 7, Paartalu 7, Nichols 8, Henrique 7, Halloran 7, Berisha 7, Broich 7, Fitzgerald 6, Murdocca 6.

Adelaide: Galekovic 7, Bowles 6, Fyfe 6, Boogaard 6, Cassio 6, Malik 6, Carrusca 6, Vidosic 6, Neumann, 6, Ferreira 6, Djite 6, Watson 6, Barbiero 6, Kostopoulos 6.

 

 

Up next: Brisbane will have to keep the new years celebrations to a minimum with a Jan 1st clash at home against a Wellington Phoenix side who came from 2-0 down to beat Melbourne Heart earlier today.


Review of Perth, Preview of Adelaide

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Sorry, I’ve been extremely busy with the holidays so this is a very quick review of Friday night, and Preview of the Boxing Day game down in Adelaide. I’ll start with the review of the Perth game from Friday.

Firstly it was good to see Mulvey revert back to young James Donachie in central defence ahead of Jurman and Franjic. He and Smith could grow into a very strong central defensive pairing given the time imo. It also had the added benefit of Franjic playing in his natural right back role. The other change Mulvey made was to drop Halloran to the bench which I found a bit puzzling, bringing back Henrique into the side. He explained it who ways, firstly saying it was Henrique’s turn to start hinting at some sort of rotation policy, he then went on to say Halloran needs to get back to his old self taking on defenders. I agree with the later quote, and actually think some time on the left side might be what he needs.  Brisbane played pretty well on Friday, creating some good chances that they just couldn’t convert. Closest of all was Henrique who hit the bar but there were some positive signs out there amongst yet another defeat. The less said about Berisha’s miss the better.

 

Perth played similarly to they did in the Grand Final last year in that they when they got their goal they sat back and rode their luck. This time it worked, due to some reasonable defending and also a pretty wasteful Brisbane. They did have a good spell of possession in the 1st half and created a few good chances in it, the goal itself however was a bit of a surprise on the stroke of half time from Steven McGarry. There was some suggestion that it was a bad piece of defending from Donachie, but I don’t buy it. If anything the blame should go to whoever (Paartalu I think) gave the ball away.

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Moving on to the preview of the Boxing Day match down in Adelaide, and ofcourse traditionally for us Brisbane fans this used to be a game against our former local rivals, this time however it’s a little further afield. Adelaide are coming into this game looking to put right a 6-2 defeat against Western Sydney on Friday night. In general however they’ve been in some good form throughout the opening half of the season with versatile attackers Marcelo Carrusca, Fabio Ferriera and Jeronimo Neumann looking like inspired signings by John Kosmina.

At the back they’re a very solid side with Galekovic in goals and a defence that’s working well together, it’s in midfield however they’ve improved this year. Malik as the deep lying midfielder controls the game very well making space for others ahead of him and he has a nice, yet simple passing game. Vidosic is obviously the one who makes them tick in a creative sense and it’s usually he who feeds the trio of foreign forwards. They’re going so well atm in the front third that Sergio van Djik rarely gets a look in with Djite and the 3 aforementioned players preferred.

As for Brisbane, well it’s getting to the stage where it’s 3 points or bust, and this is probably the worst case scenario timing wise to face Adelaide after a 6-2 mauling. Brisbane’s record on Boxing Day is also not the best with two losses and a draw from three attempts. But they played better on Friday and with a bit more luck and composure in the front third could have got something out of the game.

Selection wise I don’t foresee any major changes to the starting side- possibly Halloran in for one of Henrique or Nichols but other than that it should be the same side. On the bench Jurman is my bet to come in and replace the injured Jack Hingert, but other than that it should be the same 15. It doesn’t look like they’re going to do it, but if Berisha isn’t 100% fit I would rest him and let him get himself right before he does more damage to that shoulder.

Predicted starting line-ups:
Brisbane: Theo, Franjic, Donachie, Smith, Stefanutto, Paartalu, Murdocca, Nichols, Halloran, Berisha, Broich.
Subs: Acton, Jurman, Henrique, Fitzgerald.

Adelaide: Galekovic, Watson, Boogaard, Fyfe, Cassio, Malik, Barbiero, Vidosic, Carrusca, Ferreira, Djite.
Subs: Izzo, Ramsay, Kostopoulos, Neumann.


Round 12 Match Preview: Brisbane Roar vs. Perth Glory.

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Well after another eventful week its gameday, with a new manager in the dugout white bunnings chair with Mike Mulvey taking charge for the 1st time tonight. I don’t expect him to make radical changes this week atleast, however we might get a glimpse on how he views things. The opponents this week are Perth Glory, which makes this the 1st time they’ve returned since the Grand Final. This seems to be a case of looking to the future vs. a side looking back at the past. I’ll leave it to your imagination as to which is which.

Likely line-ups:
Brisbane:
Theo, Hingert, Franjic, Smith, Stefanutto, Paartalu, Murdocca, Halloran, Broich, Nichols, Berisha.
Subs: Acton, Jurman, Henrique, Meyer.
Omitted: Donachie, Takahashi, Fitzgerald.

Perth: Vukovic, Risdon, van den Brink, Thwaite, Jamieson, Dodd, Burns, Miller, Heffernan, McGarry, Smeltz.
Subs: Italiano, Ward, Mehmet, Harold.
Omitted: Nagai

 

 

Top Scorers:
Brisbane:
Besart Berisha (5)
Perth: Billy Mehmet (3)

 

 

Most Assists:
Brisbane: Thomas Broich (3)
PerthLiam Miller (4)

Season Record against Perth Glory
Round 1: Perth Glory (Mehmet 88’) 1-0 Brisbane Roar

Recent form:
Brisbane:
DLWLW
Melbourne: WLLDL

 

 

All-time record against Perth Glory:

Total: Played 23: Won 14, Drawn 5, Lost 4. Goals for 50, Goals against 28.

 

 

At Suncorp Stadium:

Played 11: Won 7, Drawn 3, Lost 1. Goals for 27, Goals Against. 14.

 

 

Before I get to the big injury doubt of the week, I’ll cover the easier one- Do Dong-Hyun picked up a knee injury at training on Wednesday and there’s varying reports on its seriousness, but regardless he’s out for tonight. I expect James Meyer to come back into a bench role as his replacement ahead of Nick Fitzgerald. Now onto the big on field issue for Brisbane going into the game tonight surrounds the most dominant figure in this fixture, Besart Berisha. The grand final hero –or villain- is still in doubt with this shoulder injury he copped last week and is 50/50 to play it seems.

 

 

If he’s out there’s a couple of options available. We’ve been through this before after Bes’ abdomen injury but Meyer, Henrique and Proia are all capable of playing the #9 role. Obviously Rado opted for Henrique last time and while it received mixed reviews he did score one –two really- and fit’s into the fluid front 4 and could interchange positions with the 3 behind him. My personal view is that Henrique is best suited right now as an impact sub off the bench for one of the 3 attacking midfielders rather than upfront, but who knows how Mulvey sees it. Of the other options James Meyer is now back fit and available, and scoring regularly in the NYL and has more experience in the central role than Henrique.  The downside is he isn’t a natural striker either. I don’t see Proia featuring in the game tonight despite being the only other out and out striker in the squad. My read on the situation is that they don’t believe he’s ready for senior football. Ultimately, if Berisha is out I expect Henrique to come into the starting line-up (Personally id start Meyer) with Nick Fitzgerald coming into a bench role.

The other big storyline going into the game is new manager Mike Mulvey and what effect he will have on the squad. While it’s hard to predict the medium/long term and what changes he may make, for this week atleast I expect to see something similar to what we’ve seen recently just because he’s only really had the one training session with the side. The other thing people are talking about is this notion that new manager = 3 points. While that’s been true in a lot of cases, it isn’t traditionally a Brisbane Roar thing. Here’s a reminder of how Brisbane’s bosses have fared in their 1st matches.

 

Miron Bleiberg: 2-0 home win against New Zealand Knights.
Frank Farina: 2-0 home loss against Melbourne Victory.
Ange Postecoglou: 2-1 away loss against Sydney FC.
Rado Vidosic: 1-0 away loss to Perth Glory or 3-0 home loss to Central Coast Mariners (Caretaker after Frank had been sacked and Ange appointed)

Hopefully Mulvey can buck the trend like his former Gold Coast United mentor and bring the 3 points home tonight.

As for Perth their biggest public comments this week have all been about getting some more revenge for last years Grand Final with Jacob Burns, Shane Smeltz and others saying to the press they’d like to heap more misery onto Brisbane. They’ve also had this business about owner Tony Sage being investigated by the ATO, although Fergie the club have said it isn’t to do with them.

 

They’ll be arriving in Brisbane attempting to overcome both their demons from the Grand Final, and also their general road form. While it’s obviously difficult to have so much travelling to do every other week, their road form is dreadful and they could potentially be higher up the table if they could just grab some points on the road with their sole point on the road coming in Adelaide. In Brisbane their record is also poor to say the least, with just 1 win from 11 matches, and that came back in late 2009 in the latter days of the Frank Farina era.

 

 

Their form hasn’t been the greatest in the last month or so, but they had a bounce back win at home to a pretty poor Newcastle side atm last weekend. Newcastle aren’t exactly in the greatest form right now but Perth played pretty well in their own way with Travis Dodd proving the difference with his pace and power from the right flank. For them, the biggest thing they need is to get Shane Smeltz going. Smeltz has obviously been prolific in this league, but so far this season he’s got just the two goals. He’s had an injury thrown in there aswell, but its most unlike him to be stuck on two goals his far into a season.

 

 

Creatively they rely on Irish import Liam Miller who has 4 assists already this season to provide a spark from the midfield and if Smeltz is going to find his goal scoring form it will likely be the Irishman setting him up. Over physical play is something that Perth have become known for this season and despite the fact that Burns and Fergie like to reject that notion every chance they get, for mine the tag is justified. They’re currently leading the disciplinary table with 27 yellow cards and one red, with Burns collecting the most cards of anyone else in the league with 6. They are a physical side who like to disrupt the tempo of the opposition, and it works reasonably well for them, but they do tend to overstep the mark on occasion.
 

When the two sides met in round one it was a pretty clear tactical victory for Fergie who managed to control the game exactly how he wanted. He had a lopsided midfield with Travis Dodd playing extremely high up to keep Shane Stefanutto’s attacking forays to a minimum which was successful, while on the left he played nominal fullback Dean Heffernan. He also had McGarry dropping off the frontline to crowd Paartalu leaving Smeltz upfront on his own. I expect him to go with something similar again tonight because it was pretty successful and limited Brisbane’s play. Brisbane still had a fair chunk of possession and a few chances of their own, but they weren’t really clear cut Brisbane Roar chances.


Rado moved aside, Mulvey in and everything in-between.

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While Brisbane haven’t exactly set the league alight this season, im sure I wasn’t alone in being completely taken aback by yesterdays late afternoon press release outlining Rado’s ‘promotion’ to Technical Director, and the appointment of Mike Mulvey as the teams 5th head coach since it’s inception- and it’s 3rd in 2012. Since there’s quiet a few layers I’ve tried to break it down into Rado, the club and Mulvey while trying not to go too long.

 

 

I guess I’ll start with the Rado part, and with the most obvious question here: Is this a legitimate promotion or was Rado pushed? The first thing id say here is I don’t consider this a promotion for Rado, imo the head coaching role is more important than the technical director. We have heard some rumblings coming out of the camp in the past few weeks that the players aren’t entirely happy about the way Rado does certain things which likely played a part in his removal from the coaching job. He’s also made some on field adjustments which haven’t reaped the rewards everyone was hoping for. Despite all that I still expected him to be given more time to find his feet as a head coach.

 

 

The other thing I’ll say is that while the club may consider it a promotion, there can be no doubt that the poor results on the park have lead to this decision. The CEO yesterday outlined that Rado will be the technical director for the entire Bakrie Group’s Footballing interests –essentially the role Ange turned down in March-, aswell as working on Brisbane’s youth development program, so there you go. It’s a good role for Rado though am im sure he’ll do a good job in it and it’s a role he’s probably very well suited to with his background in education.

 

 

Moving onto the club, they reportedly spoke to the leaders of the playing group (Smith, Stefanutto, Theo, Paartalu) about the situation and while we don’t know what they think of it since they’ve been silent on the matter, obviously they didn’t convince the board to change their decision. The one thing that Dobson stressed more than once in the press conference today was the motivation and hunger was a key reason behind the decision to appoint Mulvey. He was talking about his hunger to get an opportunity and to prove himself as a coach, but it does lead one to think that their was a problem between Rado, the playing group and their motivation which is something Rado questioned after the Heart game. Wether that’s related to Rado’s hunger as a coach and their needing to be a new voice to motivate the players or their hunger to play for Rado is the question I guess.

 

 

Now that’s all out of the way, lets look forward to the new boss in Mike Mulvey, what he brings to the table, what to expect from him tactically and what are the expectations on him. The first thing to state here is that Mulvey has no long term future with Brisbane right now- he’s currently an interim manager until the end of the A-League season and I assume the ACL campaign.

 

 

So essentially Mulvey has 16 games to make his case for the job on a permanent basis- but what are the minimum expectations? For mine, finals football should absolutely still be the priority and while it’s tough to see Brisbane closing a 15 point gap to Central Coast or Adelaide on the table to secure another home decider, the playing group is still more than good enough to get into the top 6. If they do make the finals, given the one off nature of the games they could do some damage once there if they’re in form at the time. If Mulvey can lead Brisbane to the finals and a reasonable ACL campaign the job should be his, but there’s plenty of work to do between now and then.

 

 

So what sort of coach is Mike Mulvey, and what does he bring to the table?  Well in his previous jobs he’s shown a willingness and ability to work with younger players both in his time at the QAS, and down at Gold Coast. While at the QAS he obviously worked with some of the brightest talents in the country, including a young Tommy Oar, while at GCU under his tutelage they won two NYL titles and saw a batch of players come through including current Roar winger Ben Halloran. He also has some experience coaching in the women’s game, most recently with Melbourne Victory. At senior level in the men’s game however his only experience is from that short stint down the coast where he won 1, drew 3 and lost 3 in 7 appearances.

 

 

Between himself and Dobson they expressed a desire to maintain, and improve upon the style of football which has been successful in recent times and on the surface Mulvey seems to fit that criteria. His Gold Coast side was a good attacking side that used width and pressed high up so that seems to be a fit. Although it is a small sample, he typically played a 4-3-3 that wasn’t too dissimilar to the way Brisbane have operated way back to the Farina days so I don’t think there will be mass changes, just a little tweak here and there. Hopefully his tweaks have a more positive effect than those of Rado. It’s a big challenge for him though as there are far greater expectations here than there were in the final days of Gold Cost United.

 

 

The final point id like to briefly discuss here is the playing roster, and what changes he may be able to make in January for the finals run in, and the Champions League. As mentioned before on here there isn’t a lot of room to move without players departing and I think it’s far too soon to speculate on players moving on now that there’s a new manager. The recent speculation about Paartalu, Nichols and Takahashi departing for various reasons in January will no doubt continue however.  But more to the point,  could we see some of the younger players in the squad like Nick Fitzgerald, George Lambadaridis, Anthony Proia and James Donachie get a chance at regular 1st team football? Time will tell I guess but for now its time to get behind the new boss, regardless of how you feel about the change, and focus on the important matter of getting 3 points against Perth on Friday.


Brisbane draw with Melbourne- stretch unbeaten run vs. Victory to 7 games.

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No, you’re eyes aren’t deceiving you, Brisbane are currently on a 7 game unbeaten run against the Victory. The last loss- a 3-0 defeat in October 2009, following which Brisbane went on a long unbeaten run. Im sure you all remember what im talking about. But back to more recent events- yesterday’s match was a quiet amazing contest in which Ben Halloran gave Brisbane the lead, before Milligan scored to equalise just after half time.

Victory started at such a high tempo it took Brisbane a good 5-10 minutes to get up to the speed of the game, and Victory really should have been 1 or 2 goals clear after the opening 20 mins. Victory’s pressure –especially from Milligan and Celeski- put real pressure on Brisbane playing out and Paartalu gave the ball away quiet a lot in the opening 15-20 mins.

 

 

Brisbane did play themselves into the game from there and even more so after the goal. Nichols and Halloran in particular began to control the play on the flanks while Broich moved into dangerous positions in the middle- but was fouled before he could take advantage. Halloran took his chance well which is a credit to him, although I don’t think Ange will be overly impressed with Diogo Ferreira’s attempt to clear the ball.

Victory came out after the break and got their equaliser after Finkler drew the entire Brisbane midfield to him which left Milligan free. Franjic was a bit undecided on wether or not to drop off or attack Milligan which game him the chance to shoot. From then on in the 2nd half it was basically all Melbourne and if they were being honest- they should have gone on to win the game and probably would have on another day if it weren’t for Theo’s heroics.

 

The injury situation isn’t looking too good either with Nichols and Berisha going off yesterday. Nichols seems to be ok and should be ready for Perth on Friday, but the same can’t be said for Berisha who looks destined for a long stint on the sidelines. So who replaces him? Well- there’s 3 options really- Henrique, Meyer and Proia. Henrique is the option Rado took away to the Heart and that didn’t work so well, which leads to one of Meyer or Proia getting the chance. I can seem Meyer starting upfront next week if Berisha is, as expected, out with Proia perhaps getting his chance off the bench.

 

A few quick points on  a couple of individuals.

Michael Theo in goal was unbelievable yesterday, he’s had some critics in the comments on this page in the past but this season he’s demonstrated quiet clearly he’s one of the best keepers in the league and tbh the situation could be a lot worse if it weren’t for Theo.

Jack Hingert at RB had another really solid outing and looks to have that position sewn up for the time being. Yesterday he had to deal with the threat of Thompson and Rojas at times, and he did it brilliantly. There were to occasions when Archie was in a dangerous position and both times Hingert snuffed out the danger.

Stats:
stats

 

Player ratings:
Brisbane: Theo 8, Hingert 8, Smith 7, Franjic 7, Stefanutto 7, Paartalu 7, Murdocca 7, Nichols 7, Broich 7, Halloran 8, Berisha 7, Henrique 6, Dong-Hyun 6, Takahashi 6.

Melbourne: Coe 7, Ferreira 7, Leijer 7, Ansell 7, Traore 7, Milligan 8, Celeski 6, Finkler 8, Flores 7, Thompson 7, Rojas 7, Broxham 7, Nabbout 6, Bru 6.

Up next:Brisbane returns home to Suncorp Stadium on Friday night to take on Perth Glory in a Grand Final re-match, and they’ll need the 3 points if they’re going to make a run at the finals.

 

 

 


Round 11 Match Preview: Brisbane Roar vs. Melbourne Victory.

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It’s game day, and it’s time for ‘Brisbane vs. Ange II’ as the media has tried to build it up this week, and thankfully this time Brisbane as a club have said nothing to stoke the fire. They were also trying to spin this as ‘do or die’ in order to make the finals, which I disagree with given the league is so tight and they’re still close enough to speak in. However if they’re going to do anything of note this season they do need to start picking up points, and quick. Last game’s 5-0 romp is no true indication of the true difference between the two sides and we should get a clearer indication tonight. The form line of the two sides since that night at Suncorp couldn’t be more different with Victory beginning to play in the Postecoglou way, while Brisbane have stuttered to 9th place and just 3 wins out of 10 games.

 

 

Likely line-ups:
Brisbane:
Theo, Hingert, Franjic Smith, Stefanutto, Paartalu, Murdocca, Henrique, Halloran, Broich, Berisha.
Subs: Acton, Jurman, Nichols, Meyer.
Omitted: Dong-Hyun, Fitzgerald, Takahashi.

 

 

Melbourne: Coe, Ferreira, Franjic, Leijer, Traore, Milligan, Celeski, Finkler, Flores, Rojas, Thompson.
Subs: Velaphi, Bru, Markelis, Nabbout.
Omitted: Jeggo, Dilevski, Gallagher, Broxham, Cernak

 

 

Top Scorers:
Brisbane:
Besart Berisha (5)
Melbourne: Marco Rojas (6)

 

 

Most Assists:
Brisbane: Thomas Broich (3)
Melbourne: Guilherne Finkler (5)

 

 

Season Record against Melbourne Victory:
Round 2:Brisbane Roar (Broich, Paartalu, Berisha x2, Nichols) 5-0 Melbourne Victory

 

 

Recent form:
Brisbane:
LWLWL
Melbourne: LWWDW

 

Starting with Brisbane, last week they continued their horrid record on the road this season with another loss to Western Sydney. The road record this year has been as bad as it ever has for Brisbane in the A-League era, and they’re especially bad in Melbourne over that course of time. To take this line of thought one step further they also have a very poor record at AAMIPark with just the one win out of 5 trips to the venue- and that came against the Heart.

 

 

The positive news however is they do have some defensive re-enforcements with Captain Matt Smith and Ivan Franjic both returning from national team duty. Just how fresh they are after 4 games in a week is the question however, as Richard Garcia of the Heart couldn’t get through more than a half of their loss last night, and Scott Jamieson looked fatigued in Perth’s win. But nevertheless it’s a safe assumption that they’ll both be in the starting line-up tonight, and most likely they’ll be partnering each other in the heart of defence. Hingert has looked solid enough at right back while Jurman has been anything but convincing in recent weeks which means Franjic will have to take one for the team and move inside to CB again.

 

 

Last time against the Victory, Brisbane obviously looked very good and it was perhaps the only time we’ve seen Rado’s innovation of ‘playing more direct when necessary’ with the third goal being a prime example of that. Halloran also had a field day with all the space Traore was affording him but I don’t expect him to be given that much freedom tonight. I think Brisbane’s best chance at getting the result tonight is to get back to the Roar of old so to speak. They did so in the 2nd half last week against Western Sydney and while they lacked conviction and confidence in the final third they looked far better doing so than just playing it over the top for Halloran. Speaking of Ben I thought the idea of switching him at times worked well last week and it’s worth persisting with again.

 

 

Moving onto the Victory and it’s fair to say they’re not the team they were in round 2, and they’ve improved in leaps and bounds since with Ange beginning to get them playing the football he wants. In round 2 their defence could best be described as a shambles with nobody seeming to understand the defensive pressure and positioning all across the park. Since that night they’ve improved drastically with Leijer and Franjic doing reasonably –more so Leijer- and the Fullbacks (Ferreira and Traore) have done well. I was hoping ex-Roar NYL defender Jason Geria would walk right into their staring line-up, but there’s reports in the Melbourne press Ange is going to spring a surprise by picking Nick Ansell from their NYL side in the 1st team tonight to partner Leijer. We shall see.

 

 

In midfield they desperately missed Milligan last time and he’s been a solid player in the holding midfield role chipping in with a couple goals from set pieces. Broxham, Bru and Celeski have been ok so far but nothing special with Celeski seemingly the preferred of the trio. In terms of the creative side, Finkler leads the league in assists and has settled in now after a difficult start while Flores has picked up where he left off with Adelaide.

 

Upfront is where they’ve surprised with Rojas suddenly looking like the player he was for the Phoenix before he made the move to Melbourne. Thompson has done his usual thing and the duo are working well as wingers/wide strikers, especially on the counter attack so Brisbane’s defence had better make sure they don’t leave any spaces for them to exploit. The biggest surprise is Andrew Nabbout, who surprisingly made his debut up here in round 2 and looked ok but nothing special. Since then however he’s gone on to become a revelation culminating with a late rescue act away to Sydney. The three of them all work well with each other and are extremely dangerous, and when you add in Finkler and Flores they’re very dangerous going forward. The other thing they are is versatile, with the ability to move into the space in between defenders and pick teams apart with intricate tight passing.